Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Cub's First Campout


Last weekend we took Cub on his first camping trip.  We went north to Deception Pass on Whidby Island.  The campground was beautiful and well kept, it reminded us a lot of Ponderosa State Park in McCall, ID.  

After setting up camp, we explore the beach.  The boys could have spent hours throwing rocks into the water and scrambling up and down larger rocks in the water.  

That night after roasting s'mores over the fire, we wiped the boys' sticky faces and fingers and got them ready for bed.  We laid them down in the tent in their own sleeping bags.  For Cub, it was too much freedom.  There was no crib to hold him back, so he started rolling and jumping and going crazy inside that tent.  We let it go on for 15 minutes, hoping it would die down.  Finally, I went in the tent, and laid down with the boys.  T Bear fell asleep instantly, but Cub still was rolling and tossing around.  WE brought him out in the dark by the campfire.  Big D held him in his arms and he soon fell asleep.

The night went well, but we awoke to rain.  It just kept raining and raining.  Our camping trip ended a little shorter than we planned.  We went went home and went and happy.  Cub did a great job at his first time camping, I think we will take him again soon!

-Miss T

Monday, June 18, 2012

Japanese Tabemono


Ok, yes, I am still posting about my Japan trip.  At this point, it is for record keeping since it is really old news now.

Today is about the food in Japan - D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S

Of course we had some sushi in a cute little shop around the corner from the LDS Temple.  Big D dipped everything in wasabi and I just stuck with the regular soy sauce.  Check out Miga using her chopsticks!

One day we ate a delicious kind of donburi which has rice at the bottom with a meat and vegetable sweet sauce and then an egg cracked over the top.  

We also ate Gyudon a couple of times.  Big D liked this because it is basically a bowl of meat with rice at the bottom.  You can order it in about 10 different sizes and super huge is the size Big D ordered.  I enjoyed ordering a soft cooked egg and mixing it in with the meat.  For some reason I am not afraid of eating raw eggs in Japan.

We loved eating at the curry shops.  Japanese curry is not liked Indian curry, but it is still delicious.  Luckily for all of us, Japan allows you to eat your curry and rice with a big spoon.  Our only complaint was that the water glasses were too small.  We had to constantly refill them.  At a couple of the places they only served Mugicha - a tea that tastes like to dirt to me.  Poppa, Btown and Big D did not think it was that bad tasting, but it was.

Another night we tried Takoyaki - octopus.  Btown's friend owned a Takoyaki shop that we ate at.  Honestly, octopus is really chewy but does not have a bad taste.  They serve takoyaki wrapped up in batter and fried.  Then you squirt some mayo and sauce over it before you take a bite.

We went out to lunch with some friends to an "all-you-can-eat" buffet.  This buffet was unique because you deep fried all of the food yourself.  Each table had a frier and you filled your plate with food on skewers.  Once your food was cooked, you dipped in a myriad of sauces and enjoyed.  For dessert they had a chocolate fountain with cream puffs and other treats to dip.  Miga and Big D cleaned out the place of cream puffs.  The only catch to this is that you are timed at the restaurant and only have 1 hour to eat.  I think we still ate way to much in one hour's time.

Personally, I wanted to stop at a Ramen shop.  I loved their big bowels of ramen and how they warm you up to the bone.  On a rainy day we stopped in a enjoy a warm bowel of ramen.  It was exactly what I wanted.

In Japan, there are convenience stores, "Konbini" on every corner and in between each corner.  Inside these Konbinis you can find delicious bread/pastries.  Melon bread, rolls stuffed with cream or beans or chocolate, sweet potato bread, chocolate swirl bread and more.  The "boys"  enjoyed darting off into every other Konbini to grab a cream bread or some other treat.  I enjoyed grabbing an onigiri at every Konbini.  It is rice wrapped in seaweed - my favorite.  I need to figure out how to make them myself!

It is very common for their to be a display of plastic food outside every restaurant in Japan.  Luckily the food is always more appetizing then how it looks in the display.

We did eat at a McDonalds to try their Teriyaki burger.  It is very different than the American version, but still tasty.

We were lucky enough to enjoy a home cooked meal by the Nakamuras.  They served us a delicious meat sauce over rice, with salad and fruit and chocolate tofu.  The chocolate tofu tasted like fudge - I want the recipe.  They were so kind to us and we definitely enjoyed their company more than the food albeit the food was amazing.

The #1 food I ate in Japanese was actual a first for me.  We flew up to Sapporo and tried a local popular dish called soup curry.  It has the flavor of curry, but it is closer to a broth consistency.  In the soup are large pieces of vegetable and meat.  You can dip your rice in the soup or vice versa.  This seriously MY FAVORITE dish.  After we had it on our first day, I begged go back the next day.  When I got home to Seattle, I searched to see if they had a soup curry place - no such luck.  I am seriously wanting to open up my own soup curry restaurant here, it is that good.  Great.... now I am craving soup curry.

Doesn't my rambling make you want to eat Japanese food?  I hope so. 

I know there are other delicious things we ate over there, but we will just have to go back again to enjoy them again.


-Miss T

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tote-ally the best.

Hey Miss T,

Recognize this?

It's a tote from Japan!!  I just got to see Miga and Poppa this weekend.  I finally got to see more of their pictures from your great adventure in Japan, and hear more stories. 

Then Miga gave me this GEM of a tote.  It's just handy!

AND it's cute.
AND it's got zippered pockets.
AND it can hold my wallet and my glasses both.
AND it's green which accent color sometimes makes my hair look reddish and of course that makes me happy.

Thank you Miga and Poppa!
Thank you Miss T for going to Japan with Miga and Poppa!

Love, Kk

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Locks & Locks & Locks & Locks of Love

It was a true SISTERS event.

KK and I donated our hair to Locks of Love with two other friends on the behalf of Claire.  Most of us have been growing our hair for 18 months + some.  We each donated over 10" of hair last Tuesday.  

Here are the pictures to prove it:

Do I like my short hair? NO.  Am I happy that I did it? YES and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Besides, I'm sure the hairstyle with "grow" on me.

-Miss T

*Don't forget about Claire's Movie Night Celebration on Friday!  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Claire's Movie Night Celebration

This is Claire and T Bear.  

They have been friends since they were infants.   Their friendship has seen massive spit-ups, fighting over toys, sharing snacks, playdates, wearing each other's underwear, sharing princess shoes, splashing in puddles, hitting each other, hugs and kisses and cancer.

Claire was diagnosis with acute lymphoblastic leukemia 2 years ago.  She is now 4 years old and finally finishing up her chemotherapy treatments.  Despite the uncomfortableness of chemo and other drugs during the last two years, Claire has remained a sweet little girl and T Bear's best friend.
T Bear photo bombed this sweet picture - true friendship, right?

This Friday night the Sunbeam Guild for Seattle Children's Hospital is having a movie night fundraiser in honor of Claire.  They will be showing a family friendly movie, The Lorax and be hosting a carnival and a silent auction.

Please join our family this friday night at Claire's Movie Night Celebration.  And if you are unable to attend, of course a donation is always welcome.

Thank you!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Short Stories 2, 3, & 4

Hi Miss T,

Thank you for leading the way and getting back to me about Japan. Here are a few more stories of while you were away.

Short Story 2: Rock Walk
We went on a Rock Walk.  It was one of those days where we needed to get out of the house, and frankly we just needed something to do.  I  made the mistake of telling Troy that what we were going to do later was a surprise (really I said that because I didn't have any idea what we were going to do later).  He kept asking what the secret was, and what I finally came up with was, a Rock Walk.  Take a brown paper bag, and rain or shine (rain for us), walk around the neighborhood in search of cool looking rocks.  Taking a bug-catching-net (wonderful gift of the day!) makes for a priceless picture.
Don't you think this picture could be blown up and framed? It's just kind of perfect.

Short Story 3: Playing in your Underwear
Sometimes a game's "fun-ness" is upped dramatically if you just play it in your underwear? Really?  Well, when we were done getting wet and dirty outside one day, before I could get the boys into fresh clothes we started a new game.  It's a modified version of horse-shoes.  A bowl with a blob of playdough, a wooden spoon, and some cookie cutters.  Now that was resourceful, was it not? Unfortunately your adorable watermelon bowl met its demise with T-bear during this game, but can you at least take comfort in the fact that they sure had fun doing it?

Short Story 4: Taking Pictures
You'd be surprised at how often we just sat at my computer, or with Mr. P's phone taking pictures.  It's one of those things to do if you can't think of anything else to do.  Or, if you are trying to do something important or useful that of course is going to get interrupted by a child wanting to do it with you.  Or, trying to bide time because one of them has their shoes on and the other is still missing a shirt, socks, and shoes, and is crying because he wants a granola bar with chocolate chips.  Does this sound familiar? So we just took a bunch of pictures.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Nara Koen: The Bowing Deer


On our first full day in Japan we traveled to Nara Park.  This area was established in 1880 and is pack full of Japanese history, culture and tourism.

My favorite part were the 1,200 free roaming deer.  These "domestic" deer are all over the park and they love to be fed.  Here is how you do it.

Step 1: Buy crackers from the dollar shop before you enter the park (they are much more expensive in the park).  Show the deer a cracker.

Step 2: Bow to the deer and watch the deer bow back to you!

Step 3: Give the deer the cracker

Result: Happy deer!  Repeat as many times as you can.

We entered into Todai-ji, a large Buddhist temple, that has a 50 foot Buddha statue inside.  The building is the largest wooden building in the world and dates back to 728.  

After reading about the history of the building and admiring the architecture, we came about a unusual sight.  People were lined up waiting to take a turn at climbing through a small hole in a wooden pillar.  Apparently the hole was the size of the nostril on the large Buddha.  Btown of course wanted to try it and amazingly, he wiggled his way through the hole.  Big D made an attempted, but he was too big to make it through.  Other Japanese tourists got a kick out of watching these big American guys making the attempt.

And here are few other pictures for your entertainment:
This was the sign outside the Men's Bathroom.  I found it very fitting for my Big D.

Getting my peace sign on in Japan!
Drinking pure water at the temple.
Btown being attacked by deer.  I recommend NOT putting the cracker in your own mouth.  Btown got licked by several deer.  GROSS.

Nara Park was a beautiful place in Japan, I highly recommend visiting, especially to feed the deer.

-Miss T

Porcelain Throne


One of the things I love about Japan is their version of the "porcelain throne."  On the plane ride over, I told Big D that he was going to love the toilets in Japan.

This is why I love them - the seats are WARM!  At first it is a disgusting feeling because you are thinking that the warmth is from the pervious person's bum.  Then you realized that is is always heated and it feels great. Plus the toilets have the bidet feature where they spray water and air to clean you off when you are done.

Unfortunately there are still plenty of "squatters" (they are a hole in the ground) around Japan.  Miga always got nervous when we used public bathrooms in fear that there would be no western style toilets and she would be forced to use a squatter.  We lucked out every time.

Big D did enjoy the toilets so much he took a picture:

And here is my favorite commercial "Ode to the Commode." (not Japanese at all)

-Miss T

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Ways We Traveled


Our mode of transportation in Japan was quite diverse.  I think the only thing we missed out on with a dirt-bike and a boat.

We flew on Korean Air from LA to Tokyo.  The flight to Japan was 11 1/2 hours.  This sounds horrible, but surprisingly it was not that bad.  I give the credit to Korean Air for making our flight extremely comfortable.

The flight attendants were professional in their matching uniforms and very kind.  Combined, they all spoke more than 5 languages for sure.  At least every 30 min to an hour they were walking through the cabin offering snacks, drinks, meals, entertainment, warm rags, or things to buy.  We were not sitting in first class (those seats converted in to beds!), but we felt like we got the royal treatment.  Each seat had their own TV with a good selection of movies, games and TV shows to watch for free.

My favorite was the little slippers and tooth brush kit they gave you at the beginning of the flight.  Big D loved the warm rolls stuffed with meat that were offered in the middle of the night.

The flight back to LA was just as nice and even shorter - only 9 1/2 hours.  I would honestly recommend Korean Air to anyone who has to fly internationally.  They were outstanding.

Tooth brush packet - so cool!

I loved my little slippers.

Delicious Asian cuisine 

As soon as we arrived in Japan, we found a train station to activate our JR passes.  We had purchased JR passes that would let us ride almost any train in Japan during one week period.  It was a great deal since we were planning on covering a lot of miles in Japan.  The process of actually activating and receivng our JR pass as excruiating and slow.  In many regards Japan is an efficient country, but it this department they need to step it up a bit.  Ugh...

Finally we rode the train out to catch a bullet train.  The bullet trains in Japan go about 150 mph.  It was exciting to see one race into the station.  There were several days when we got to ride on these bullet trains and watch the beautiful country of Japan race by our faces.

Most days we rode the regular trains that were much slower and more local bound.  I enjoyed getting on the train and just "people watching."  I wondered were people were going or coming from in their suits or school clothes.  I stared at the small children and thought about my own boys who would have loved to have been riding the train with us.  Mostly I tried to pain attention to were we were going so we would not miss our station!

The boys trying to reserve tickets for us and figure out where we needed to go.

In the bigger cities, Japan has an extensive subway system underground.  We did a lot of walking down to the subway and back up the long stairs to the street level.  The subway cars in Japan come very frequently, so you are usually not waiting longer than 5-10 minutes for a subway.  Occasionally I did worry that we were on the wrong side of the platform waiting for a subway.  I think we only did that once the whole time.
This subway picture was taken as we had hit 24 hours of consecutive traveling.  It was 4am  "our time" but like 9pm in Japan.  Oh were we exhausted!

As a missionary in Japan, I rode my bike daily.  So on one morning, I suggested we look into renting bikes for the day while we were in Osaka.  Our little apartment complex had bikes that we could rent for the week.  They were the style of bike that I like to call "mama chari."  The seats were too low, they were slightly squeaky, but they worked.  Big D looked like a giant on his.  We rode them happily through the city and used them to ride back and forth from the train stations each day.  Personally, I loved riding my bike because I was not wearing a dress!

Don't you wish you were there too?

Because we had our JR passes, we did not ride the bus frequently.  

My most memorable bus ride was one that made me feel like a canned sardine.  

We got in a long line at a bus stop.  When the bus arrived we piled into the bus.  We barely made it on.  I seriously thought that the bus driver better not make anymore stops because we can not fit more people on the bus.  The bus did stop, and about 5 more people squeezed in.  The most became over crowded and we tried not to push up against other people.  At the next strop, the bus driver spoke on the intercom and asked in a very polite voice for everyone to scoot towards the front to make more room.  Three more people got on.  Then he asked again very nicely for us to keep making more room!  By this point I was smashed against 5 different people and was practically laying the lap of the person actually sitting in the seat.  I tried not to think about what body parts of what person where being smashed were, but honestly it was very uncomfortable.  I looked around the bus and saw Big D in the same situation towards the back of the bus and my parents smashed up towards the front of the bus.  We just started laughing - what else could we do?  

It was the most ridiculous bus ride ever.  Luckily it only last for 3 more stops and we all gratefully exited the bus as soon as possible.

*I do not have picture of us on a bus.  But as I just related, there was no way for me to get my camera out of my bag!

We rode in a taxi for our "epic adventure" (will post that in more details soon) and on the way to the airport one morning.  The taxis in Japan are so clean. The back door automatically opens for you and the seat is cover with a white linen and the driver is wearing bleach white gloves.  It is definitely first class service in the taxi.

Scary face, but this is the only Taxi picture I have, and I was a little nervous that the taxi driver was taking us to the wrong place!

Japan has some cute compact cars.  We saw some interesting vehicles that you can not see in America. My friends drove us around in their cute little minivan.  They had 3 little kids that climbed all over the seats while we were driving (they do not have the same kid of carseat and seatbelt laws like the USA).  We enjoyed being driven up into the mountains and around the beautiful city of Sapporo.  I was glad we did not do the driving, because they drive on the other side of the rode!

We rode up in a cable car to a top of a beautiful mountain outside of Sapporo.  The ride was short, but the view at the top was spectacular.

Don't love this picture but it is the only one I have on a cable car.

And of course we did a substantial amount of walking.  We should have worn one of those pedometers to keep track of the miles we walked.  Miga's feet were swollen after the first day (partially due to the heat).  Luckily we all had good shoes and we just kept going. 

I did not keep track of the many miles we traveled in 10 days.  It was exhausting and thrilling at the same time.  Big D still wishes we would have gone on a boat to round out the list.

-Miss T